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SHRM President and CEO Henry G. "Hank" Jackson kicks off the opening General Session June 28. Photo by John Anderson.
“How do we, the HR profession, navigate the new world of work, when
work is more global, mobile and social than ever before?” asked Society
for Human Resource Management (SHRM) President and CEO Henry G. “Hank”
Jackson as he kicked off the SHRM 2015 Annual Conference &
Exposition on June 28, 2015.
“I see a growing, dynamic profession whose value to organizations has
now made us business leaders. Given where business is today, and where
it’s headed, HR has no option except to lead,” he said.
Jackson noted that many long-predicted developments to the changing
work world have now arrived. Among these transformative forces, he said,
are the following:
Technology. “The rising bar on the skills and
education that people and businesses need is being driven by advancing
technology,” Jackson noted. “It’s creating some new, innovative jobs and
industries and making others obsolete. But more critically, technology
is slowly eliminating the need for a central office location. How do we
build ‘office’ cultures without the ‘office’?”
Demographics. “We have the rise of the Millennials,
who only a few months ago became the largest generation in the
workforce,” Jackson remarked. “On the other hand, we’re in the middle of
that wave of Baby Boomer retirements.”
For the first time in history, he pointed out, there are five
generations working side by side, “and they all have different
motivations and expectations of work.”
Globalization. Employers “no longer have the option
of saying ‘I’m local’ because a bright employee can now work from
anywhere in the world, and many of them do,” Jackson said. “Talent is
borderless, so we are all global now, competing for the best and the
To make it in this new business world, “organizations need the most
engaged, productive and talented workforces. They need teams and
cultures that give them the best chance of succeeding, no matter where
they are,” Jackson said. “They need people who embrace change, seek
innovation and press forward despite ambiguity. They need HR
Recently, the Conference Board asked CEOs, presidents and chairs
around the globe what their most critical challenges were. “While they
named the usual suspects—innovation, customer relations, operations and
sustainability—at the top of their list was human capital,” he pointed
Likewise, “a survey by the SHRM Foundation and the Economist
Intelligence Unit found that what organizations need most today and into
the future are people management strategies for an ever-changing
world,” he noted, and “the World Economic Forum has said that talent,
not financial capital, is the key to ‘innovation, competitiveness and
growth in the 21st century.’ ”
The conclusion Jackson drew from these findings: “Leaders are
recognizing that something they must do in this volatile, uncertain,
complex and ambiguous world is have the right talent. And finding,
developing and keeping that talent—that’s our job.
“Nearly 50,000 HR professionals have achieved the new SHRM
certification and taken the SHRM Competency Model to heart,” he
commented. “We extensively researched and carefully designed this
competency model to take HR to that next level, to move our profession
further into business leadership.”
Jackson spoke of the importance of HR leaders such as Shara Gamble,
SHRM-CP, HR director at TAMKO Building Products in Joplin, Mo., whom he
introduced from the audience. Gamble, featured in the May 2015 issue of HR Magazine,
“wanted her 10-person HR team to make sure managers had two things:
competent, well-trained talent and useful people analytics. But [she]
found her HR team spending its time on transactional duties like payroll
and benefits administration,” Jackson observed. “She decided to disrupt
that status quo” by offering cross-functional training so that HR had a
broader grasp of daily operations, and then challenging her team to
offer solutions to the business problems that managers face. “And this
small but passionate HR team rose to the challenge. They transformed
even the most day-to-day HR duties into strategies that impacted their
business,” he noted, calling Gamble “a business leader who just happens
to be an expert in HR.”
Concluded Jackson, “Leaders and others in business are coming to
understand what we know: that great organizations are led by great HR.
If we accept this leadership challenge, there will be no debate about
the need to bring HR into every business decision, and more
organizations will live up to their claims that people are their
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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